Skipped 'Blacklist', Watched 'Curse of Chucky'

Curse of Chucky review
Photo: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Universal recently sent me the upcoming Chucky: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Set, which includes Child's Play, Child's Play 2, Child's Play 3, Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky and the brand new Curse of Chucky. Last night around 8:45 or so I knew the second episode of "The Blacklist" was going to be on at 10 PM, but I wasn't exactly slobbering with anticipation after last week's disappointing pilot. Not wanting to watch anything all that intellectually stimulating I decided to grab the box set and give this new Chucky film a watch. I think I made the right choice.

Curse of Chucky trailerLet's get one thing out of the way at the start, Curse of Chucky isn't a very good film. I don't think this will surprise anyone, even those that will say they enjoyed it. It's possible to enjoy a bad film and in the case of Curse, the enjoyment will largely come out of a sense of nostalgia and the film's ability to harken back to the franchise roots while also not entirely ignoring the two most recent lackluster installments.

If memory serves I've actually never seen Child's Play 2 or 3, but it's not as if this is a mythology that's hard to grasp and Curse of Chucky also manages to build on the Chucky back-story and how exactly he came into being while giving reason for future films to exist. After all, we're only talking about a direct-to-video release here, it's not as if Universal was breaking the bank on the budget.

The story takes place, for the most part, over the course of one night. Nica (Fiona Dourif) is a paraplegic and has just found her mother murdered shortly after they received an anonymous package including the familiar face of the red-headed Good Guys doll, Chucky (voiced once again by Brad Dourif, yes, Fiona's father). Shortly thereafter Nica's sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) and brother-in-law Ian (Danielle Bisutti) arrive with their daughter Alice (Summer H. Howell) and live-in nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell). Over the course of the night, dysfunctional family secrets are revealed and people die, all at the hands of the killer doll whether it be by rat poison, a knife to an eye or electrocution.

Essentially, it's a Chucky film, though this is played more for horror and gore than for laughs, which is where the franchise had turned to as of late.

A look at the animatronic operation of the Chucky doll
A look at the animatronic operation of the Chucky doll
Photo: Alterian Inc.

While it looked incredibly cheap and featured endlessly bad acting, the Chucky doll was great. The animatronics were excellent and the heavy push for more and more jokes weren't there as much as the film seemed to want to actually tell a story and regain at least some level of credibility. Or, at least, as much credibility as a film about a talking, killer doll, possessed by the soul of a serial killer can attain.

It was funny, however, while watching I couldn't help but think of the article I'd written only a few hours earlier, chastising the plot of I, Frankenstein and how stupid it sounded. Then, there I was, watching the sixth film in a franchise about a killer doll. Hypocrisy?

I feel I could safely argue why the Chucky franchise is different than what is going on in Hollywood as of late, especially with something like I, Frankenstein. The fact one is a targeted direct-to-video release rather than a bigger budget attempt at a new franchise using nothing but used elements from other movies is where I would start. In fact, the two films are probably the perfect examples of exactly what is going on in Hollywood right now.

Both are probably equally terrible, the only difference is the size of the budget and the money that will be spent on marketing. Lionsgate has decided they were going to spend a ton of money to try and turn I, Frankenstein into a franchise. On top of spending that money, you have to consider the audience. I, Frankenstein has already received it's PG-13 rating, no chances will be taken with this film. It will be a bunch of quick cuts and fight scenes shrouded in darkness to create the illusion of something more than it is.

Comparatively, Curse of Chucky would never be released in theaters as is. There isn't a big enough name in the cast and it's an R-rated horror sequel in a franchise that more-or-less died out back in '91 before it turned into a horror-comedy spoof in '98. The only way this would be made by a studio today is if it included a name they could sell and somehow make it as a PG-13 film, but the risk would be way too high with not enough chance for much reward, even if the film was generally regarded as good.

Even in my discussion of I, Frankenstein commenters referenced films such as Resident Evil and Underworld, forgetting they are both R-rated franchises while I, Frankenstein will be PG-13. The rating difference is a big one when it comes to these genre features as a PG-13 severely limits the addition of what people come to love about such films. Imagine Underworld without the head slice at the end or even Underworld: Evoltion without the helicopter blade death. You can't, because as you strip away what makes monsters scary you end up with either watered down, been-there-done-that or Twilight.

So, when it comes to my hypocrisy, there is some. We all have our biases, blinding us from some level of truth, but I think it's safe to say a film about a killer doll is a little more inventive than another twist on the Frankenstein story, this time with "vigilant gargoyles and ferocious demons", even if it's the sixth film with said killer doll. Just an opinion, as ignorant and hypocritical as some may think it to be.

As for whether or not I made the right choice in skipping "The Blacklist" to watch this, well, I'll find out soon enough. I have a feeling it will end in a draw and I'll be kicking myself for not simply watching Denis Villeneuve's Maelstrom. Such is life.

Here's the Curse of Chucky trailer and you can buy the set right here or the individual disc here.

  • Winchester

    Well, whether you think you did or not you did answer your own question regarding 'I, Frankenstein' and it's nothing to do with the rating really. The answer lies in not being in the mood to watch anything 'intellectually stimulating' at that moment in time.

    That's why you watched Fast and Furious 6, that's why a couple years ago you found Transformers 3 'easily recommendable' and why these movies both on the megabudget and ten dollar budget end of the spectrum continue to get made.

    Coz everybody just wants to watch trash sometimes.

    So, yes. It's hypocritical - but everybody is at some point. I won't criticise you feeling the need to self justify one over the other. I would do the same but I would say if I'm going to watch that sort of film I'd rather watch the one that has money spent on it and has glossy visuals and production values. But it's six and half a dozen in the end.

    • Brad Brevet

      "The answer lies in not being in the mood to watch anything 'intellectually stimulating' at that moment in time."

      I agree to some extent, I still think there is a difference when it comes to this kind of a material, which is why I brought that up at the beginning and attempted to dive into the whys in the end.

      "I would say if I'm going to watch that sort of film I'd rather watch the one that has money spent on it and has glossy visuals and production values."

      Perhaps this is one of the dividing lines when it comes to trash?

      • Winchester

        Probably not for everybody............maybe some people.

        Take The Wolfman (2010)......a fairly trashy and derivative take on the same story done several times. Not a 'Great' piece of cinema. But......absolutely stunning production design and expensive effects. And hell, even Emily Blunt comes out unscathed acting wise.

        • Adu

          I really enjoyed Wolfman for those reasons actually. Same with The Hobbit; yes it's a lesser story compared to LOTR, but the production values & the sense of adventure it creates elevates it above anything out there in terms of scope in my opinion.

          On a lighter note, Brad, where is today's podcast? It's usually up by now.

    • Newbourne

      I'm never in the mood to not watch something intellectually stimulating.

      • andyluvsfilms

        After a run of foreign films and documentaries I found myself gagging for Armageddon, just the tonic.

  • Matt Taylor

    I wouldn't call enjoying "Curse of Chucky" and complaining about "I, Frankenstein" hypocritical- it's simply stating your opinion.

    I too rolled my eyes at the poster for "I, Frankenstein" and will most likely not see it. I also think action films like the "Fast and Furious" franchise, and comedies like "Grown Ups 2" look awful. But I love watching bad horror films like "The Curse of Chucky" (though I haven't seen that particular film). As Winchester mentioned above, everybody wants to watch trash once in a while- and we all like different types of trash. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    But, that is why I've adopted a "let people like what they like" mentality. I don't feel right complaining about people going to see "Grown Ups 2" or "Pacific Rim" in droves when I've spent more than a few Friday nights renting cheesy horror flicks with friends and having a good time. Sure, I think the world would be better off without crappy action films and stupid comedies- but I don't it's a big deal that some people find enjoyment in them. Good movies will still be there. Though I suppose my opinion may be different if my career entailed seeing as many of these films as possible to write reviews for them. But, again, I try not to care about what other people think of any particular film.

  • Baca

    I quite enjoyed this flick. Child's Play is actually one of my favorite slasher franchises as it kind of embraces how insane it. That being said I thought this was one of the strongest installments, and although it did look cheap at times I think the low budget benefited it as Mancini actually used the first 45 minutes to build character and tension before letting it all go nuts. Seemed like they actually had a reason to make this chapter.

  • Will Urbanovitch

    I really enjoyed it up to the tie in to the last two movies, kinda sucked me out of the story. Outside of that I thought it was great. Chucky was the horror movie villian that freaked me out the most when I was young, nice to see some scares thrown back into this series. Hoping to see the return of Andy if they make another one

  • Kimberlesk

    I just watched this last night. I agree the acting was awful, but Chucky was pretty well done. He still has his sense of humor and I do enjoy seeing the new scenarios in which he ends another character's life. I agree with you exactly, Brad -- this is the kind of film to watch when you aren't in the mood for something intellectually stimulating. I opted for Chucky over the latest episode of Sons of Anarchy, a show I used to enjoy, but has just lost any luster I saw in it. Maybe after spending the summer watching Breaking Bad, I just can't take mediocre drama anymore.